Skip to main content

A Not-So-Good Shooting Starr

A Not-So-Good Shooting Starr
Henry Starr, a.k.a. the “Cherokee Bad Boy,” led a legendary life of crime beginning in the 1890s and extending to the early 1920s. He also wrote an autobiography and starred in a film based on his writings.

Born in Indian Territory near what would later become Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, on December 2, 1873, Henry Starr was a horse thief, a train robber, a bank robber, and a convicted murderer. Interestingly, he wrote an autobiography and also starred in the silent film that was made from his memoirs.

Henry Starr was destined to become a criminal. His grandfather, Tom Starr, was known as “the Devil’s own,” and his father, George “Hop” Starr, was a bandit in his own right. Henry’s uncle, Sam Starr, also was an outlaw and was married to the infamous Belle Starr. Henry was part Cherokee and grew up in Indian Territory near the Arkansas border. By age 16, he had been arrested for bringing whiskey into Indian Territory, reportedly in a stolen wagon. He jumped bail and fled the territory.

Approximately three years later, Henry had a more serious confrontation with the law that resulted in him being convicted of murdering U.S. Deputy Marshal Floyd Wilson on December 13, 1892. As the story goes, Wilson tracked down Henry after Henry and his partners in crime had robbed several stores and train stations. Spotting each other at almost the same moment, Henry dropped from his saddle while Wilson remained mounted. Wilson ordered Henry to surrender, but Henry just “walked away.” Wilson then shouted that he had a warrant for Henry’s arrest and rode closer to him, stopping some 25 feet from him. Wilson dismounted, raised his rifle, and fired a warning shot over Henry’s head.

Henry returned fire, and a gunfight ensued. Wilson was hit and fell to the ground. When Wilson tried to load a fresh cartridge into his rifle, the gun jammed, so he threw it aside and reached for his revolver.


//content.osgnetworks.tv/shootingtimes/content/photos/Not-So-Good-Starr-1.jpg

Henry fired two more shots. As Wilson lay there, Henry walked over to him and fired one more shot into his chest.


Henry continued his crime spree but was eventually apprehended in 1893 and tried for murder and highway robbery. During the trial, Henry claimed to not know Wilson was a U.S. Marshal and that Wilson had opened fire on him without provocation. Henry was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. His conviction was overturned twice. The third trial resulted in a conviction for the lesser charge of manslaughter, and while incarcerated, Henry famously helped thwart a prison escape. For his heroics, Henry received a pardon from U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

After his release from prison in 1903, Henry once again put together a gang of thugs and terrorized and robbed throughout northwest Arkansas. He was imprisoned again in 1908. He used this time in prison to write his autobiography (Thrilling Events: Life of Henry Starr) and study law. He was set free by the state governor in 1913.

Soon he had committed a series of bank robberies, including two on the same day. Eventually, he was caught again and sentenced to 25 years in the state penitentiary. Amazingly, he was paroled after just four years.

Henry got into the moviemaking business (supposedly working on four silent films) and even portrayed himself in the 1919 silent film A Debtor to the Law, which was based on his autobiography.


But Henry just couldn’t stay on the straight and narrow. His end came in 1921 while attempting to rob the People’s State Bank in Harrison, Arkansas. Henry and his gang arrived at the bank in a Nash motorcar, and during the robbery, retired bank president W.J. Meyers, who happened to be in the bank at the time, shot Henry in the back with a .38-40 Winchester Model 1873. Henry went down immediately, was apprehended, and died four days later on February 22, 1921. The rest of his gang fled in the automobile.

Henry Starr was a legend. He was both an ideal prisoner when incarcerated (as evidenced by his repeated pardons and paroles) and the consummate bank robber when he was out, having robbed more banks than the James–Younger gang and the Doolin–Dalton gang.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

James Tarr runs through the 3-Second Headshot drill.

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

We're taking a look at what the Army's Elite Units are using for service rifles and what the future of SOCOM sniping looks like.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Like situational ethics, standards of accuracy vary according to circumstances.Accuracy: It's All Relative How-To

Accuracy: It's All Relative

Terry Wieland - May 09, 2019

Like situational ethics, standards of accuracy vary according to circumstances.

The Husqvarna AB. Mauser Series 1100 Deluxe features a European walnut stock, a non-military action, and a two-position  wing-type safety.Husqvarna AB. Mauser Series 1100 Deluxe Rifle Review Rifles

Husqvarna AB. Mauser Series 1100 Deluxe Rifle Review

Joseph von Benedikt - August 19, 2020

The Husqvarna AB. Mauser Series 1100 Deluxe features a European walnut stock, a non-military...

The new Bushnell FORGE riflescope is “the only choice for long-range hunting enthusiasts.”Review: Bushnell FORGE 4.5-27X 50mm Optics

Review: Bushnell FORGE 4.5-27X 50mm

Sam Wolfenberger - May 01, 2019

The new Bushnell FORGE riflescope is “the only choice for long-range hunting enthusiasts.”

The Winchester .350 Legend is a no-nonsense whitetail thumper tailored for rifle hunters in the Heartland.Winchester .350 Legend Rifles and Ammo Available Right Now Ammo

Winchester .350 Legend Rifles and Ammo Available Right Now

Payton Miller - August 21, 2020

The Winchester .350 Legend is a no-nonsense whitetail thumper tailored for rifle hunters in...

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ and the Taurus G3c are vastly different, but each is a great choice for a personal carry gun.Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ vs. Taurus G3c Handguns

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ vs. Taurus G3c

Joel J. Hutchcroft - November 20, 2020

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ and the Taurus G3c are vastly different,...

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being excellent, the Taurus TX22 .22 LR autoloader rates a 10.Taurus TX22 Review Handguns

Taurus TX22 Review

Layne Simpson - May 11, 2020

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being excellent, the Taurus TX22 .22 LR autoloader rates a 10.

The new Walther CCP M2 has many fine features, and it performed admirably. It is ergonomic. It is easy to disassemble for regular cleaning and periodic maintenance. And it is quite accurate.Walther CCP M2 .380 ACP Review Handguns

Walther CCP M2 .380 ACP Review

Jake Edmondson - July 06, 2020

The new Walther CCP M2 has many fine features, and it performed admirably. It is ergonomic. It...

Just by looking at the Kimber Rapide 1911, you can tell it is built for speed. It has all the bells and whistles that a hot-rod 1911 needs for fast function, and its fit and finish are superb.Kimber Rapide 1911 Review Handguns

Kimber Rapide 1911 Review

Joseph von Benedikt - June 29, 2020

Just by looking at the Kimber Rapide 1911, you can tell it is built for speed. It has all the...

See More Handguns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Shooting Times App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Shooting Times subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now